Archive for the ‘Tapestry Crochet History’ Category

A New Wiki Page

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Wikipedia is a very popular online encyclopedia written by non-paid volunteers. Although some areas are extensively covered, not all topics are fully represented. After seeing no mention of tapestry crochet, I started a Tapestry Crochet Wiki page and linked it to the Crochet Wiki page. Right now, the new Tapestry Crochet page is ranked as C-class on the quality scale.

Anyone may edit Wiki articles, so I hope you will consider expanding the tapestry crochet page. Wikipedia is very careful about copyright. Text and photos must be your own, or in the public domain. Editors are not allowed to promote themselves or their own products, but are encouraged to edit what has been written and add more original information. For more about editing a Wiki page, please look here.

The tapestry crochet page, as it stands right now, is pretty basic. With your input, though, it could be more complete and move up to B, Good Article, or even Featured Article status! Together, we can do it!

Bosnian Hooks

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Another fabulous connection and exchange has occurred – thanks to the internet. This time it involves Bosnian crochet and their hooks! To see what I’m talking about, just take a look at Barbro Heikinmatti’s new blog, Trapper Joel’s Hooks.

Joel’s Bosnian Crochet hook.
Joel’s Bosnian crochet hook.

Thanks Barbro and Joel!

History in the Making

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

In case you haven’t already found them, I thought I’d tip you off about two very informative articles that appeared yesterday and today on the internet.

For a look at tapestry crochet in the Himalayas, you will enjoy reading Larisa Vilensky’s From Carpets to Jourabs in Issue 11 Spring 2010 Crochet Insider.

Pamir socks from Crochet Insider
These Pamir socks are featured in the recent issue of Crochet Insider.

You might remember Barbro Heikinmatti from my earlier blog. She first wrote about Bosnian crochet in Swedish, then today posted another version in English. As you can see below, Barbro experimented with a number of techniques – all of which are discussed in her blog.

Barbro’s Purses
Barbro Heikinmatti ‘s experimental purses.

I’m an art and craft historian by trade, and you know how much I love tapestry crochet. Can you tell that I’m excited?

I had no idea tapestry crochet was so widespread, but new information about long standing traditions are slowly coming to light, thanks to people like Larisa and Barbro. A BIG THANK YOU to each of you for sharing your research with us!!!


Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Barbro Heikinmatti (hillevi3 on Ravelry) belongs to the small Swedish-speaking minority in Finland. She attended my tapestry crochet workshop in Vasa / Vaasa, Finland, in 2005. Like most of the others, she was already an accomplished tapestry crocheter, but did manage to learn a few new things.

Barbro’s bead tapestry crochet basket
Iiro’s been eating from his bead tapestry crochet basket since 2005!

Barbro explains, “I think I did my first tapestry crochet when I crocheted/knitted a Korsnäs sweater in the early 80’s. Since then I have crocheted a few (giggle) purses and bags (more giggle). Yes, I love tapestry crochet, and thanks to Carol I learned how to add beads. I mostly crochet by simply casting on and see what will happen. That means I keep unraveling a lot.” :)

The sweater below was “Knitted / crocheted at Marketta Luutonen’s first workshop in Vasa in the 80’s. This traditional sweater was made for men in the 19th century, in the 20th and 21st also for women. Nowadays they are often changed into cardigans. Note that the tapestry crochet is worked in the back loop.”

Barbro’s Korsnas Sweater
Knitted and tapestry crocheted (into the back loop) wih Novita Marimba wool in 1984.

Detail of Barbro’s Korsnas Sweater
Detail of the sweater’s crochet and knitting.

“This bag (below) is perfect when I walk around the house doing things. I hang the purse around my neck.”

Barbros’s iPod Case
Tapestry crocheted with Sandnes Garn Mandarin Petit cotton in August 2007.

The bag (below) was “Improvised from Carol Ventura’s patterns in her book, More Tapestry Crochet. I can’t resist crocheted shopping bags and purses. This will be big enough to keep a few books and all the necessary things i.e. lipstick, pen, keys, wallet… Bird from Vibeke Lind’s “Sticka efter gamla nordiska mönster.”

Barbro’s Shopping Bag
Tapestry crocheted with Novita Kotiväki cotton in July 2008.

Barbro’s Bird Bag
Barbro’s Bird Bag crocheted in April-May 2009.

“I do have to make a purse for my favorite spindle, don’t I??”

Barbro’s Comet Purse
Tapestry crocheted in April 2009.

Barbro’s Horse Around Purse
Tapestry crocheted cotton and linen Horse Around Purse, May 2009.

Barbro tapestry crocheting
Barbro tapestry crocheting a cover for her spindle.

“My spindle, Precious (born at Journey Wheel), needed a cozy little home. I stole some elements from the Korsnäs sweater and crocheted them into both loops (traditionally worked into the back loop). I can’t resist the S-slinga (S-arabesque, festoon, creeper or whatever you prefer), so I use it quite often. The dancing girls are also fun to crochet. Bead crochet is a joy. I learned the technique at Carol Ventura’s workshop. I finally found a nice way to use a few meters of my handspun variegated merino-silkyarn, leftover from mother-in-law’s shawl.”

Barbro’s spindle holder
Not one day without a thread / Sine filo, nulla dies unum spindle holder crocheted in November 2009.

How did she do it? “Well, first you have to count your stitches. I had about 88 in the round, and the letters were planned to be 6-7 rounds high. I started to sketch in Excel, using colors close to my yarns. Carol Ventura has a great graph paper in her book More Tapestry Crochet, but I didn’t have it with me that day. I soon saw I had to crochet the text in two lines. I spread out the text to look balanced and started to crochet. It was GREAT fun!”

“I bead crocheted the rim, sew an inner lining, started thinking about how to close the purse. A casing was easiest to make. And Precious could go to bed in it’s new home!”

What will she be doing next? “Thanks to audio books that are now available everywhere, I will most certainly crochet more. I can’t tapestry crochet and read books simultaneously, which is what I do with knitting, lace crochet, and this autumn also spinning. My handspun merino-silk yarns are perfect for many projects: small purses, fingerless gloves etc. Maybe I’ll also start sketching own patterns, but that’s uncertain because of all the wonderful ethnic designs from all over the world that can be used.”

Are you hooked yet? If so, you can see more of Barbro’s work on Ravelry and you’ll want to follow her trilingual (Swedish / English / Finnish) blog.

Peaceful Tapestry Crochet

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Although Mohammed Assadi doesn’t know the difference between knitting and crochet, hooks and needles, or wool and cotton, he wrote a very interesting article for in August about how tapestry crochet is helping support industrious women in Palestine.

Palestinian tapestry crochet
Palestinian tapestry crocheter and kippah

The short piece says that women in villages like Deir Abu Meshal on the West Bank have been producing religious headgear for their Jewish neighbors (and for export to the US) for years. The women told him that they enjoy making kippah while talking to each other and can tapestry crochet five a day.  At $3 each, that’s only $15,  but money goes further there than it does in the US.

Isn’t it wonderful that tapestry crochet not only helps put food on their tables, but also brings people together?

Back to Ghana

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Like last year, my trip to Ghana was very interesting, but exhausting. A day after arriving home from the CGOA Conference in Buffalo, I was on a plane to Accra, then school started the day after I returned home from Ghana – so I’m still working on my recovery!

Carol tapestry crocheting in Ghana
I started to tapestry crochet a bag with size 18 Omega nylon in the airport, then worked on it while waiting for the bus to Kumasi. This is how I looked after being awake for 24 hours – and I still had a 7 hour bus ride to go!

I was on the lookout for crochet everywhere! I didn’t see many examples, but did see some women wearing black net-like double crocheted hats and a few men with colorful single and tapestry crocheted hats.

Crochet Hats in Sirigu, Ghana
Double and single crocheted hats in Sirigu.

Many Muslim men in Ghana wear tapestry crocheted hats. I spotted the gentleman below in Krofofrom while researching lost wax casting.

Tapestry crochet hat worn in Ghana
This Muslim man from Krofofrom told me that his hat was crocheted in Bogo, Ghana.

Tapestry crocheted hats in Ghana
Fabulous imported tapestry crocheted hats worn in Kumasi.

A traveling salesman in Bolgatanga was selling both embroidered and tapestry crocheted hats. Guess which ones I bought?

Hats for sale in Bolgatanga, Ghana
Embroidered and crocheted men’s hats for sale in Bolgatanga.

While researching adinkra in Ntonso, I taught four members of the THREAD group how to tapestry crochet a cell phone bag. They learned how to double crochet in school with thread and small steel crochet hooks, but didn’t know the single crochet stitch, so it was a challenge for them to do the new stitch, carry the other thread, and change colors with a larger hook – but they eventually got it!

Learning to tapestry crochet in Ntonso, Ghana
Women learning how to tapestry crochet a cell phone bag in Ntonso.

I was so busy the 3 weeks I worked and traveled in Ghana that I didn’t make much progress on my own bag. While waiting for the bus to bring me back to Accra, Arden approached me to ask what I was doing. I was so thrilled that she was interested that I gave her a mini lesson! She also learned just the double crochet stitch in school. After showing her how to single crochet and change colors, I handed her my bag and she gave it a try.

Arden tapestry crocheting in Ghana
Arden gives tapestry crochet a try.

So I planted a few more tapestry crochet seeds in Ghana. Hopefully, they will take root and the next time I go to Ghana I will not have such a difficult time finding tapestry crochet!

German Miser Bags

Friday, June 12th, 2009

I’m always on the lookout for crochet in my travels – and especially for tapestry crochet. Most of the treasures encountered on my recent trip to Germany were behind glass or Plexiglass and poorly lit because light fades fabric. Flash photography was not allowed for the same reason – so please excuse the poor quality of these photos. At least they allowed me to take pictures – many museums don’t nowadays.

Miser bags were among the most intriguing historic crocheted items I photographed. I was introduced to them during a 1999 Crochet Guild of America Conference workshop led by Gwen Blakely-Kinsler and B. J. Licko-Keel. Their Magical Miser Purses book includes a short history and several patterns.

Probably because miser bags were used as chain purses at the turn of the 19th century, they were exhibited together with coins and other numismatic items in several of the museums I visited. The most popular style has a slit in the middle where money is slid in and out, compartments at each end (one for coins and the other for paper money or coins of a different denomination), and metal rings in the middle to keep the money in the compartments.

These small bags are colorful and elegant. The compartments are usually single crocheted in rounds, while the center of the bag is often double or triple crocheted in rounds near the compartments, then back and forth in the middle to form the slit. The center is crocheted with one color thread, while the compartments are crocheted with contrasting colors. Some miser bags are decorated with stripes, as seen below.

Miser Bag from Meissen
Miser bag in the Albrechtsburg Castle Gatehouse Museum in Meissen.

Others feature intricate bead crocheted motifs (like the one below).

Beaded Miser Bag from Meissen
Bead crochet 1850’s miser purse in the Albrechtsburg Castle Museum in Meissen.

And a few are bead tapestry crocheted. Since the bead slides to the back of the stitch, the fabric looks different than expected because it shows what we consider the back side.

Bead Crochet Miser Purse, Bode Museum, Berlin
Bead tapestry crochet miser purse in the Bode Museum, Berlin.

Miser Bag from Dresden
The top two miser purses in the Folk Art Museum in Dresden are bead tapestry crocheted, while the bottom one is bead crocheted with one color thread.

Now that you know what to look for, I hope you’ll also be on the lookout for these beautiful miser’s treasures!

Memorial Day TC Radio Show

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

I’ll be Mary Beth Temple’s guest on blogtalkradio’s Getting Loopy! at 9pm Eastern time tomorrow night. You can listen online – or even better – you can call 646-915-8371 to ask questions and to share your tapestry crochet excitement! You’ll hear the show through the telephone when your call is connected, but you aren’t live on the air unless Mary Beth tells you. She will identify you by area code to the listeners.

You can also go to the live chat area – when you’re listening to the show there’s a box with Mary Beth’s photo and the show details near the upper right hand corner of your screen. In the upper right hand corner of that box, there should be a “chat available” icon. Click on through and join us! Chat is open about ten minutes before we go live – if you have a question that you are dying to ask, that’s a great way to reach us. If you have an account and are logged in, Mary Beth can see your user name, but you can chat even without an account – you will be assigned a temporary guest name. During the show you’ll be able to enter a contest to win an autographed copy of my Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet book!

Don’t worry if you miss it because you can listen to the show when it’s over, too. The most recent one auto-plays at Getting Loopy! or you can go to BTR and select an archived show from the list. The archives are also available via RSS feed and ITunes. I’m really looking forward to a memorable experience!

More Turkish Tapestry Crochet

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

I considered it “taking advantage” in my younger days, but now I rationalize, “They can always say no!” So what did I do this time? Well, when I heard that Adele Recklies was going to attend an International Bead & Beadwork Conference in Istanbul last summer, I emailed her (no, we have never met) with a request – to buy a few tapestry crochet purses for me (if she just happened to see them in her travels).  She graciously agreed to keep her eye out for them, but upon her return, reported that she had not found any. Of course, I understood. Then, out of the blue, she emailed me that she might have a lead to some Turkish tapestry crocheted purses – and sure enough – it all worked out and I’m now the proud owner of the tapestry crocheted bags below!

Turkish Pouches
These 6″ high Turkish pouches were tapestry crocheted into the back loop with half double crochet stitches.

Turksih Half Double Detail
Detail of the half double crochet stitches done in the back loop. The color was changed before the stitch was completed.

The other thread was only carried in the row when it was needed and 2 threads were carried, when necessary. The colors where changed after each stitch was completed.

These tapestry crocheted drawstring purses were inspired by similar ones used in Ottoman times for coins. Crocheted into the back loop, some are half double crocheted, others double crocheted with very fine cotton and (what might be) nylon.

Turkish Pouch
This 5″wide Turkish pouch was tapestry crocheted into the back loop with a double crochet stitch.

The next time you’re in Istanbul, make sure you visit Linda at the Deli Kizin Yeri (The Crazy Lady’s Place) in the Grand Bazaar! Unfortunately, she can’t do international orders, but she does have a great selection of these tapestry crocheted purses. I hope to eventually make my way there, but in the meantime, I have these wonderful treasures!

For my introduction to Turkish tapestry crochet purses, please look at my previous blog.

Tapestry Crochet in Portugal?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

The best way to travel is to stay with a friend and let them show you around! That’s what I did in 2005 when I visited my Portuguese friend, Isabel. She brought me to many interesting places. Of course, wherever we went I was always on crochet alert.

Crochet is popular in Portugal. I found lots of beautiful filet crochet altar coverings in large and small churches – each uniquely incorporating motifs that included crosses, words, flowers, birds, and hearts.

Altar Cover in Mafra
Filet crochet covers the altars of many churches, including these in the Mafra Basilica.

Altar Cover in Mafra
Christian symbols adorn the altar covers.

Detail of a Filet Crochet Altar Cover

Filet Crochet Altar Cover in Mafra
I really enjoyed visiting the churches, not only for the fabulous architecture, but many of the altars were covered with incredible filet crochet.

Crocheted hats and scarves were also in fashion – on young and old alike. Since most people crochet in the privacy of their homes, it was not easy to find them, but I did spot a few. One woman was happily conversing with a friend in a park while crocheting a black wool hat.

Crocheter in Lisbon
This woman, wearing a crocheted hat and scarf, is crocheting a hat. She passed the wool behind her neck to create the proper tension.

Another was crocheting a border around a tablecloth while keeping an eye on an historic neighborhood chapel.

Crocheting a Border at San Quintino
This woman from Sobral de Monte Agraço was crocheting a border around a woven tablecloth while keeping her eye on the Chapel of Santo Quintino. The chapel is kept open for visitors a few hours each week.

I even found a crochet enthusiast in a high school in Lisbon that specializes in the arts. Helena Estanqueiro, one of the fibers teachers, was very excited to learn about tapestry crochet, so I am confident that she will teach it to her students. Although my More Tapestry Crochet book is in English, Portuguese crocheters had no problem understanding the graphs and pictures.

Helena Estanqueiro
Helena Estanqueiro, a weaving teacher from Escola António Arroio, really enjoyed learning how to do tapestry crochet.

No, I didn’t find tapestry crochet in Portugal, but I found lots of filet images and did my best to spread the word.

An earlier version of this blog was published in the March 2006 CGOA Chain Link Newsletter as Ambassador of Tapestry Crochet Goes to Portugal.


Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

When asked where they get their ideas, artists usually say that they just pop into their head. In Wanda Blount’s case, they inspire her fingers. She says, “None of my work is written out. It comes to me and I just sit down and crochet it. . . I use regular acrylic, cotton and silk yarns. I also use mirrors, cowrie shells and buttons.”

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats
Wanda models hats that she tapestry crocheted in the 1980’s.

She continues, “I’ve been crocheting for many years and was very serious about it at one time but then I moved from NY to Virginia and I kind of separated “my gift” from my spirit.”

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats
These hats also date to the 1980’s.

“I started crocheting while I was still in high school. My uncle married a woman from the Phillipines and she crocheted doilies and bedspreads with cotton thread and the very small silver crochet hooks. I learned from her how to crochet pineapples and other lace patterns. I made a lot of doilies. I started making the patterns smaller so that I could crochet them into decorative skullcaps. From there, I started using more colors and textures – experimenting – so that I could see what I would end with.”

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats and vest
Wanda also tapestry crocheted these hats and the vest in the 1980’s.

“I usually see or dream about what it is that I want my work to look like and I start from there. I sometimes have to just think about what comes to me for few days before I can begin. It helps me to place my yarn out on the floor and just choose the colors that I want to use. I don’t have any set color scheme I just go with what moves me and with what I think looks great together. My work comes from spirit. I feel it before I start to crochet, while I am crocheting.”

Wanda’s tapestry crocheted hat
Another tapestry crocheted hat that dates to the 1980’s.

“I haven’t always acknowledged my gift as something special, like other people have and I know that is because it came so easily for me. But I am becoming more confident and comfortable with seeing myself as an artist…and I like it :) .”

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats
Wanda tapestry crocheted these hats in the 1990’s.

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats
More of her fabulous tapestry crocheted hats from the 1990’s.

“I crocheted some of these hats while I was living in NY in 1990 and I crocheted some of them when I moved back to Virginia in 1991.  After I moved back to Virginia I would travel back and forth to NY to sell my hats. The majority of my sales came from word of mouth.”

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats
This 1990’s tapestry crocheted hat can be worn two different ways!

“I worked mainly with Luster Sheen yarn by Red Heart. I also used Lion Brand acrylics and other types of yarn.  I sometimes used various types of left over yarn that I purchased from thrift stores.”

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats
More of Wanda’s hats from the 1990’s.

“Now that I have come to grips that it is a God given blessing, I am flooding my spirit with crocheting once again. I hope to become published real soon.”

Wanda’s tapestry crochet hats
A few more of Wanda’s tapestry crocheted hats from the 1990’s.

I can’t wait to see her latest inspirations! I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep an eye on Wanda’s Flickr page – because this funkycrochetdiva (Wanda’s name on Ravelry) will be posting pictures of her new work there!

<Safari Hat
Update: Wanda’s free African Safari Hat pattern is included in the current issue of Black Purl Magazine!!!

Tapestry Crochet Explorationist

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Sit back and prepare to be amazed! Thirdsister, aka Kris King from Longmont, Colorado, is bringing tapestry crochet to a whole new level.

Kris King tapestry crocheting
She looks innocent enough, but watch out!
This inventive woman is mega talented!

Circular motifs have always been a challenge, but by combining back loop and standard single crochet stitches, she’s able to tapestry crochet curves with much smoother transitions. As Kris explained it to our Yahoo Group, “I work into the back loop in certain situations to get a less jagged edge on a color change.  Diagonals to the left (from bottom to top) are smooth in single crochet due to the inherent slant of the stitch.  But diagonals to the right are jagged.  By working into the back loop at the color change I smooth this out a bit.  I find this technique helps on horizontal color changes too — a less toothy edge.  It also helps to connect a line when otherwise it would be broken . . . I’ve found that by using the back-loop technique I’m able to use symmetrical patterns which I had passed over previously because of the difference in left-to-right and right-to-left diagonals.  The two still look different, but now left-to-right one-stitch-wide diagonals connect enough for the diagonal to look more like a diagonal than a series of dots.”

Tapestry Crochet Baskets
Naturally dyed handspun wool
S Vessel, 2007 (motif based on one in Salish Indian Sweaters by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts) and Celtic Knot Vessel.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First a little about her roots, in her own words: “I’m one of five kids from a military family. We moved around a lot. I have three sisters, all of whom knit, crochet, weave, spin, or something. My mom taught us all the crafts we know except spinning and weaving. I started crocheting at about 10 years old. Although everyone in my family crochets, I am “the crocheter” of the family. I don’t knit – I’ve tried a couple of times, but just can’t get it. But that is okay, as everyone else knits, including my oldest daughter, and I get really great sweaters, socks, and gloves from them. I would be really crazy to learn to knit now! Crocheting was a way for me, as a teenager, to find solace in solitude. Mostly I made doilies and afghans (from kits). I did macramé also – even making earrings for my sisters from sewing thread and beads.”

“I didn’t do much crocheting during college, through my professional career as a computer programmer, and the first part of raising a family. When my husband and I started a family we decided that one of us needed to stay home full time. I won – it’s been a great journey. We have two daughters – both now in college – two of the most wonderful young women you could ever hope to meet. Both were home-schooled up until high school, which was fairly time consuming, so I didn’t get a lot of time to crochet.”

“When the girls were small my husband surprised me by signing me up for a beginning spinning class. I was hooked. I loved it. I didn’t have lots of time for spinning, but once I learned the basics, spinning was something I could do in short periods of time between other activities. After a couple of years I had lots of yarn just lying around. So crochet came back into my life. I happened to have a copy of Tapestry Crochet – in fact I had two copies, not only did I think it was going to be a good technique for me, but one of my sisters did too. My first project was a small spiral vessel from my handspun that now sits on my husband’s desk at work holding his pencils. My second project was a large bag (below) I learned a lot from these projects.”

Kris King’s Tapestry Crocheted Bag
Can you believe that this original 21″ x 12″ handspun bag is Kris’s
Second Tapestry Crochet Project? OMG!

“I realized that the kind of tapestry crochet objects I wanted to make required a stiffer yarn than what I had been spinning or could buy, so I started spinning singles from Lincoln, a longwool sheep, specifically for tapestry crochet. These yarns were fairly inelastic such that, in tapestry crochet, I ended up with a fabric that was fairly stiff.”

Tapestry Crochet Dragon
Natural color handspun wool
Dragon Bag (motif from the Little Dragon in Catherine Cartwright-Jones’ book, The Tap Dancing Lizard).

“I’ve enjoyed the journey of discovery with tapestry crochet – how much tension to use (go smaller in hook size instead of trying to crochet tighter), various ways to end and begin rows, shapes beyond just cylinders, the nature slant of crochet and how to make it an asset instead of a detriment, how to use variation between the front and back loop to achieve different results (see below). And that process just continues. Tapestry crochet works like a good science – the more questions I research and answer, the more questions are created.”

Tapestry Crochet Seahorse Heads
Left is tapestry crocheted as usual, right shows some front loops.

“I’ve taught tapestry crochet a couple of times. Teaching is such a different experience. One of the best ways to advance one’s own skill is to teach it to others. I really enjoy teaching others to make tapestry crochet bags (see below). Cotton yarn works well for these – very little elasticity.”

Tapestry Crochet Bags
Cotton tapestry crocheted bags.

“I tried flat tapestry crochet once – in a dragon afghan. That was a real experience! There were so many technical aspects to figure out – it was loads of fun.”

Tapestry Crochet Dragons Afghan
Naturally dyed handspun wool flat tapestry crochet
Dragon Afghan, 2005-2006 (based on a pattern in Cross Stitch Patterns, edited by Thelma M. Nye, published in 1970 by Van Nostrand Reinhold Company).

“Generally I don’t have deadlines on any projects, even projects that are intended as gifts from the onset. People who receive my crocheted projects know me well enough to know that I just can’t abide by restrictions of the calendar. They are accustomed to receiving Christmas presents from me in July. It is very nice to not feel pressured in my projects.”

“I really like dragons. I’ve made two bags with dragons and two afghans.”

Tapestry Crochet Dragon Bag
Cotton 11″ high tapestry crochet
Dragon Bag, 2007 (motif adapted from the Chinese Imperial Dragon in Catherine Cartwright-Jones’ book, The Tap Dancing Lizard).

Dragonfly Basket
Kris loves all sorts of dragons! She tapestry crocheted this 5″ tall
Dragonfly Vessel in 2007 with naturally colored handspun (the motif based is on a 1912 filet crochet pattern in The New Filet Crochet Book by Anna Wuerfel Brown, published by Cora Kirchmaier).

“Patterns for tapestry crochet exist just about everywhere. I’ve used patterns specifically for tapestry crochet, but also filet crochet patterns, two-color knitting patterns – any charted pattern works. The proportions on patterns will vary when done in tapestry crochet. Generally the design ends up being a little skinnier than it looks on paper – especially when using knitted designs. The designs I’ve used are not hindered by this. I especially like Celtic knots. I’ve been exploring more curvy designs and I like those a lot.”

Celtic Knot Baskets and Pillow
Natural color handspun Celtic Knot Vessels, 2007 and 14″ Pillow. The motifs on these projects are from Alice Starmore’s Charts for Colour Knitting.

Tapestry Crochet Spiral Baskets
Natural color handspun wool 4 1/2″ high Swirl Vessel, 2007 (motif is from Charts for Colour Knitting by Alice Starmore), and 4 1/2″ high Curvy Tapestry Crochet Vessel, 2008.

“I have several tapestry crochet ideas for the future. I want to break out of overall symmetric designs – using multiple motifs instead of repeating one or two. I want to create a plate-or bowl-like object that is two sided – the right side of the crochet on both sides – two canvases for different designs. I want to explore non-cylindrical shapes – I haven’t been that pleased with my results in the past. I want to explore curves more also. And I want to master left-handed crocheting such that I can do flat pieces without cutting the thread at the end of each row.”

Shaped Tapestry Crochet Baskets
Natural color handspun wool
Rooster (the motif based is on a 1912 filet crochet pattern in The New Filet Crochet Book by Anna Wuerfel Brown, published by Cora Kirchmaier) and Hummingbird Baskets.

“I correspond with my fiber sisters on a day-to-day basis. This fiber family includes my mom, my three sisters, my oldest daughter, knitting friends from my neighborhood, friends from our local guild, friends from Ravelry (that I’ve never met in person – the internet is great!), friends from classes. Ravelry is a fantastic resource!”

“Every year many of these friends meet at the Estes Park Wool Market in June in Colorado. We rent a cabin (this year 2 cabins!) and have a giant fiber slumber party for 4 to 5 days. It’s really cool. We work very hard at our classes during the day, and then sit around knitting and crocheting and teaching each other in the evenings. The sharing of knowledge and experience is wonderful. I have a delightful picture in my head of a friend teaching my daughter to knit continental style.”

“I’m a member of the Handweavers Guild of Boulder. This is a wonderful group; great programs, great people, great inspiration and support.”

Kris King’s Felted Tapestry Crochet Bag
Felted Tapestry Crochet Bag, 15″ x 13″, Lion Wool, 2007.

“This vessel (below) was an experiment in how to join rows. If you work in a spiral, you get a jag in the stripe that is disconcerting. In the past I’ve done the normal crochet row join (chain at beginning of row, slip stitch into that chain at the end of the row), which didn’t give good results. So I tried something new: chain at the beginning of a round to get up to the next round – this chain will NOT show as it ends up being on the inside of the work. At the end of the round take your hook out of your work. From the back, insert the hook into the back loop only of the first single crochet of that row. Grab the free loop and pull it through, then do a chain to get up to the next row (you have to pay attention to tension to make sure this loop isn’t too tight or loose). The first single crochet in the next round goes into both loops of the first single crochet of the last row. This is the same single crochet that you just pulled your free loop through.”

Kris King Basket
Another Celtic Knot Vessel tapestry crocheted with handspun in 2008. Notice the way the rounds are joined down the center of the detail – her own innovation!

“In this technique and the normal joining technique you have that one joining stitch where part of the stitch is done at the beginning of the round (the chain to get up to that round) and the rest of the stitch is done at the end of the round. BUT – with this technique, the chain stitch at the beginning of the round doesn’t show. So you don’t have to worry about this part when you are changing colors for the joining stitch from one row to the next.”

If you like what you see here, Kris has more pictures of her amazing fiber art at Ravelry and Flickr. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she will explore next! I’m so inspired by what she’s doing, I made up a new word to describe it – yes, Thirdsister is a true tapestry crochet explorationist!

Tapestry Crochet Online

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

It’s mostly through the internet that I’ve been able to share my love of tapestry crochet. In fact, without it, I never would have considered self publishing my More Tapestry Crochet, Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet, and backstrap weaving books. A previous blog showed how it’s also enabled me to publish and sell individual online patterns.

My Tapestry Crochet Yahoo Group has introduced me to people around the world. If you’re not already a member, I hope you’ll join! It’s free and full of wonderful, sharing people who post pictures and ask and answer just about everything about tapestry crochet.

Ravelry is another fantastic online forum dedicated to all sorts of fiber arts and beyond. Information about all of my published tapestry crochet projects are on Ravelry. If you’re already a Raveler, then please consider joining the Tapestry Crochet group there, too!

The Crochet Classroom is a teaching forum for all types of crochet, including tapestry crochet.

Several other online groups, including Crochetville, are not exclusively about tapestry crochet, but some members post about it. All of these groups are free, but you need to apply to join.

My free videos on YouTube show how to design and bead tapestry crochet and how to bead tapestry crochet a basket (pattern instructions on page 11). Another video features tapestry crochet around the world.

And of course, there is my tapestry crochet web page – with links to my gallery, some free patterns that have links to tutorials, and more!

This, of course, is just the tip of the tapestry crochet iceberg! You will find lots more sites by searching “tapestry crochet” or “colorwork” or “jacquard crochet” or “intarsia crochet” or “korsnas crochet” or “fair isle crochet” or “hard crochet” or “crochet jacquard.”

Yes, the internet is the great enabler! Unfortunately, many of my friends and colleagues are internet phobic. I wish they would get over it and discover the charm and potential! I know I’m speaking to the choir, but that’s the great thing about this blog – I will do it because I can! What freedom!

Mesmerizing Mandalas

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Have you seen these marvelous tapestry crocheted mandalas on Yahoo Tapestry Crochet and Ravelry by Sriyana? The more I see and read about this talented woman, the more I want to see and know!

Stacey Glasgow
Stacey Glasgow, aka Sriyana, with her prize-winning Woodland and Star Mandalas.

When I asked Stacey if I could blog about her work, she not only agreed, but helped by emailing me the following:

“Originally from Michigan, I grew up on the northern edge of Detroit. As a young girl I was drawn to old-timey handcrafts, and all forms of art. My grandmother knew how to crochet, and at my request, taught me the basics when I was about eight years old. Soon afterward, I enthusiastically improvised my first original crochet project –- a simple pastel-striped baby blanket with ruffled edge for my newborn cousin. I continued to crochet on and off over the years, and although I found I was actually good at reading patterns, I often experimented with crocheting my own basic designs.”

“In 2002, after an eleven-month adventure in a small RV, my husband and I settled in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Over the next few years, I did some drawing and painting, something I’ve always loved to do. I began work on a painted mandala. ‘Mandala’ is an ancient Sanskrit term, loosely translated to mean ‘circle.’ The creation of mandalas is an ancient art form, the process of which is said to open communication between the conscious and subconscious mind. Mandalas are used in many religious traditions, and were studied and used by Carl Jung in his work. Jung said, ‘Drawing mandalas expands one’s thinking, exercises integrity, exposes unconscious traits, focuses attention and brings self-knowledge. It calms and relaxes the psyche.’ ”

Hawaiian and Helios Mandalas by Stacey Glasgow
Hawaiian dates to 2006 and Helios to 2007.

“During this time, I attempted some crocheted color-work designs using standard graph paper, but was dissatisfied with the results, due to the many loose ends and floats, and the distortion of the motifs. I began searching the Internet for ‘crocheted tapestries,’ and found Carol Ventura’s books. I was elated, and placed my order for More Tapestry Crochet. As soon as it arrived at my door, I ravenously scanned Carol’s tutorial of the tapestry crochet technique. A light went on, and the floodgates were open! I immediately began designing my own tapestry crochet projects.”

“In 2005, I decided to improvise a tapestry-crocheted mandala. It became the first of many, and in 2007, I devoted much of my time to this newfound passion.”

“Many things give me inspiration for my mandala designs, including the beautiful natural surroundings here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where I live. Stars, trees, flowers and plants, and other symbols of nature all find their way into my work.”

Knight and Bloom Mandalas by Stacey Glasgow
These Knight and Bloom Mandalas date to 2007.

“Music and dance also inspire me. My husband has a talent for writing songs, and is often sitting alongside me, playing and singing as I work. Music is one of the things that brought us together, and continues to nurture the bond between us. I sing harmony with him, and offer suggestions when he’s stuck on a lyric. I also love to dance, and have a great little circle of friends here in Asheville who share that passion. We get together as regularly as possible, often with their new babies in tow, to practice fusion-style bellydance. Gathering with these goddess-women is always inspiring to me. The spiral is a basic form of movement, as inherent in dance as it is in other forms of nature. My dancing and my mandalas, with their basic spiral form, feel closely connected.”

“I also enjoy reading about the folk arts of widely varying, fascinating cultures, such as the Pennsylvania Dutch, Native American, Scandinavian, Middle Eastern and Indonesian traditions. It is inspiring and humbling to find parallels and connections between my work and the work of artists from all over the world, who may have lived hundreds, or even thousands of years ago, all the way up to the present. My little collection of well-loved books on the subject is always growing, and I visit museums whenever I have the opportunity. Although my traveling experience has been relatively limited, I do love to travel, and hope to do more of it in the future. There are so many places I read about that I would like to visit. has been a windfall, providing the opportunity to virtually ‘meet’ fiber artists from all over the world.”

Earth Mandala by Stacey Glasgow
This Earth Mandala dates to 2007.

“My mandalas have, thus far, been crocheted out of wool. Much of the yarn I use is spun from fleeces produced locally by Bovidae Farm in Mars Hill, NC, where I can stop and pet the sheep while visiting their wonderful on-site yarn shop. Their fleeces are sent out to Bartlett Yarns, Inc. in Maine, to be processed into yarn in one of the last ‘spinning mule‘ mills in existence in the US, and are then returned to be sold on the farm where they originated.”

“My mandalas are worked in a continuous spiral, often carrying five to eight colors simultaneously. I also end-off colors and add in new ones as I go, so that a completed mandala may end up with as many as seventeen colors and shades, like my Star Flower Mandala Tapestry . . . or more!”

Star Flower Mandala by Stacey Glasgow
This Star Flower Mandala dates to 2007.

“Once I’ve reached the desired size for a particular mandala, I crochet the last row around a brass-coated steel wire macramé hoop [what a GREAT idea!!!]. This allows me to easily display them, nice and flat, on a wall.”

“Each mandala I create is one-of-a-kind, an improvised design that reveals itself gradually as it develops outward from its center. This unfolding process is meditative, but also exciting. The journey of their creation is therapeutic work, and the final result is always something of a surprise. My mandalas are intended to be enjoyed as wall-hanging tapestries in sacred spaces.”

Stacey explained her technique and added these encouraging words on Ravelry:

“I am not a math person, by nature. So I calculate as little as possible! Making flat circular designs is something you will just get the hang of with some trial and error. I know it can be frustrating, but don’t give up, the ‘AHA!’ moment is just around the corner!”

“I use the increases to branch my designs out, and/or start new motifs right on the increases. Sometimes I do just slip in increases wherever they work, regardless of rules, but I do try to stagger them around from row to row to avoid creating any points on my circle. If you have Carol’s book, More Tapestry Crochet, check out the pattern for the blanket on page 85. I have used the first 19 Rounds of that as an increase guide for getting a flat circle started.”

“Just remember, your design has to accommodate expansion as the circle gets larger . . . so you must either add a new motif when you increase, or make your original motif or background color triangulate out like a slice of pie. If you think of it as a circle made of pie slices, you might get the ‘aha’ moment…or you might just get hungry. Get a slice of pie, (I like coconut cream . . . mmm . . . coconut cream . . . sorry, Homer Simpson moment, there), and keep practicing!”

Stacey Glasgow’s Scarf
“This was worked using the back-loop tapestry crochet technique. The design is my own, based on traditional Scandinavian-style motifs. I incorporated a pass-through slot into the scarf, at my sister’s request.”

Stacey also designs tapestry crochet clothing and accessories – but mandalas are her passion. I’m really looking forward to seeing her new work – which I find calming and exhilarating at the same time!

Danielle Kassner, aka “laracroft”

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Another tapestry crochet artist of note is laracroft (her web name, of course). Although originally from Canada, after 20 years of living in Spain, it should not be surprising that Danielle has chosen the European back loop tapestry crochet technique. She says it best (the following is from emails or was originally posted on Danielle’s blog and in Ravelry):

Danielle’s Hats
Danielle’s Hat and her Russian Princess Hat (designed by Annette Petavy, from the French crochet magazine, 1000 Mailles) with Danielle’s addition of a tapestry crochet border.

“I live and work as a classical musician in Barcelona, but really I’m from Toronto. I started seriously crocheting last October (2006) when I injured my back, but now that my back is fine I find myself with a serious yarn abuse problem. But the only thing I have in common with Lara Croft is our taste for Bach.”

“Mine is about Crochet Jacquard, or as the Americans call it, Tapestry Crochet. If you always work into the back loop, your designs will not lean over to the right, and the carried thread will not show through.”

“The cuff [below] is done in a new and utterly impossible technique which me and some girls from Ravelry have dubbed “Mensa Stitch” but which is also known as Backwards Crochet. In the small photo to the left you can see my new version of the cuff, now that I’m a bit more adventurous in Mensa Stitch. On the right is the button band, just waiting for some buttons.”

Danielle’s Warmer
Danielle’s Cuff.

Danielle’s Gloves
Danielle’s gloves were made for the Spanish glove swap, GUANTAZO, for a friend who likes skulls and purple!

“I came to Tapestry Crochet, not through tapestry crochet or even via crochet at all. I discovered it while surfing through Scandinavian knitting links. My biggest love in the fiber world is Nordic stranded colourwork, which turns on all my lights. One day I found a site called “Nordic Fiber Arts” and started scanning through their book list. When I came to a title called “Decorative Crocheting” my heart started racing. There on the cover was an exquisite, intricate stranded sweater, ostensibly crocheted! To me this was like Redemption from on high, because although I love the look of knitting, I find the act of it unspeakably tedious, while I simply love to crochet. Several seconds later I had ordered the book and started burrowing all over the Net to find more links and photos. By the time the book arrived at my door two weeks later, I had already figured out the technique by zooming in on the very few images then available, and was obsessively experimenting with it. Later I discovered your beautiful work, Carol, and was terribly disappointed to discover that I was not in fact the First Man on the Moon! Still later you posted your article on TC in Korsnäs and I went wild with delight over the photos, and wild with jealousy that you got to go there!!”

“Not much has changed since then: my first love is still Nordic colourwork. My second love is Medieval Art, and I suppose a little of that may be reflected in the designs that come to me. I have (obviously) a bit of a penchant for little cross motifs which are all over Scandinavian and Baltic knitting, and also figure highly in medieval decorative art.”

Danielle’s Bag
The motif on Danielle’s Latvian Mitten Handbag is from Latvian mitten designs.

“I consider myself very much a beginner still. I’d like to be able to say “Dale of Norway, move over!” but honestly a couple of hats, a few socks and a pair of gloves are not much competition for the masterpieces those northern folks have been making for the last couple of centuries.”

“And the best part is, after removing the icky circular needle which made the thing [below] look like a hula skirt, amazingly it turns out that it actually fits the DH [Dear Husband]!! However, the experience while character-building did not change the fact that I find knitting very, very tiresome. I’m glad it’s over, glad to be twirling again and finally done with all that Poking About with Pointy Sticks.”

Danielle’s Korsnas Sweater
Danielle’s WIP [Work in Progress] Korsnas sweater.

“And that’s it, the whole knitted section [above], thank God. I have paid my dues, and I have proven to myself that I can knit. I can knit while watching CSI. I can knit with 2 strands, and even with 3 strands. Well, actually that last bit is not entirely true. 3 strands is not my strong point.”

“I hardly have time to crochet these days. I like doing 5 or 6 test runs before making anything pretty, but that’s a luxury I don’t seem to have these days. So my dear, I wish I could have made your birthday present a bit classier, but you’ll have to be satisfied with this thing [below].”

Garden Pouch
The design on Danielle’s Garden Pouch is from Plate LXV of La Vera Perfezione del Disegno per Punti e Ricami, 1561.

“This is certainly getting closer [below]. Only problem is, this was supposed to be a Troubador Sock, or rather a Trouvère sock, and somehow it got to looking like a Santa Claus sock. No matter, I can always hang it off the mantelpiece on Christmas Eve.”

Danielle’s Sock
First, a few test pieces, then voila!

“I can’t believe it. Tejemanejes, the Spanish online knit magazine, are going to PUBLISH (omgomg) these very Troubadour Socks [below] in their next issue! In celebration of which I have decided to give them their very own Name, since Troubadour Socks Number 1 is less than romantic. No, like roses each sock deserves its Name, and this sock is hereby named after that most excellent troubadour, Bernart de Ventadorn. (He probably would have worn them, too, airy-fairy poetic type that he was, if only he’d had a day job to help him with the purchase of luxuries like socks.)”

Danielle's Socks
Danielle’s Bernart de Ventadorn Troubadour Socks.

“. . . a pair of my Troubador Socks should be in the next [Spring 2008] issue of Interweave Crochet, unless something terrible occurs like they decide they hate them or forget to put them in.”

Danielle’s Felted Hat
“Here’s a new technique I’m trying to get the hang of. It’s promising, but I fail to get the measurement right before felting. This is TC but leaving floats instead of carrying the second strand. Using a bulky 100% wool for the floats which after felting becomes a fuzzy, warm, thrum-like lining.”

“I’m a classical guitarist and I play, teach, conduct and crochet (and sometimes knit too) in Barcelona. Some days I have a hard time deciding which I like better, music or crochet. Guess I’ll have to keep doing both.”

I have not had the pleasure of hearing Danielle play, but if it’s anything like her unique approach to tapestry crochet, then it must be spectacular!

VASSA Fingerless Gloves
Update: Danielle’s free VAASA fingerless gloves pattern is included in the Spring 2008 issue of Black Purl Magazine!!!